Envirotainer pioneered the active (powered) unit-load device (ULD) for air shipment of temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals in the mid-2000s; and in 2011 it introduced the RAP e2 unit, which supersizes the ULD to hold up to five pallets in one container. Now, with what it says are more than 22,000 shipments employing the RAP e2 since then, the company has announced the construction of its 1,000th RAP e2 unit from its manufacturing facility near Stockholm, Sweden. (The company also says it has a total of 5,500 active units, which includes over 4,000 RKN single-pallet ULDs.)
Active containers are the premium service for air transport of temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals. The units have a hard shell (metal or composite material), insulation, and an onboard heating/refrigeration unit, which runs off batteries that can be recharged with an electrical connection. Envirotainer has growing competition: CSafe, a US company, introduced its own RAP-scale unit at the beginning of this year, and there are several other vendors of active units, as well as a growing number of providers of passive (non-powered) units, which have the advantages of lower tare weight, but a limited service duration unless the chill packs within the unit are changed out for fresh ones. Meanwhile, global pharma companies are growing more comfortable with deploying containers with self-contained refrigeration units on ocean-borne vessels.